Language is important: we need to take issue with the mainstream media when it cloaks false accusers in the mantle of victimhood

Here is the letter I sent to television station WITN in Jacksonville, North Carolina at email address regarding a story we reported last week:

I write to express my concern about your use of the term "victim" to describe the false accuser in the above-referenced story, posted August 5, 2009. Labeling a woman who committed the most vicious prevarication a "victim" despite the fact that she recanted her false allegation does a grave disservice to (1) the innocent man she falsely accused; (2) actual rape victims, because you trivialize rape when you include among its victims false accusers; and (3) your readers, who are entitled to accurate reporting but receive something less than that when you transform a false accuser into a "victim." I implore you to exercise greater care in reporting on such stories, and to show sensitivity to the presumed innocent and their families.

I also take exception to your asymmetrical anonymity policy where you freely identify an innocent man accused of the most vile crime (and because of you, this false claim will trail him forever on the Internet), yet you guard the false accuser's identity with all the tenacity that Clark Kent employs to guard Superman's. This policy is shamefully unfair to the innocent man.

I founded the foremost Internet site devoted to giving voice to persons falsely accused of sex crimes. We will be watching to insure you do better in the future. Thank you.

Pierce Harlan

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